Mediterranean street food has arrived in Riverbank, as Nick the Greek opened its first northern San Joaquin Valley location this week in the Crossroads Shopping Center.
The fast-growing regional chain was started in San Jose by three cousins of Greek descent, all of whom are named Nick (to differentiate themselves, they are called Big Nick, Little Nick and Baby Nick). The company now has 57 locations in California, as well as 10 additional locations across Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Utah.
The chain specializes in fast, tasty and affordable Greek dishes, including gyros (Greek pita sandwiches) and souvlakis (Greek meat skewers). The restaurant also offers a selection of salads, starters and desserts.
But customers won’t really need to answer the standard question “Want fries with that?” question when ordering at the new restaurant because Nick the Greek’s gyro and pita sandwiches are stuffed with it, in addition to your choice of freshly cut meat (traditional beef/lamb combo, chicken, pork belly or ground beef patty). The hearty meals cost $11.95 for a sandwich only, $4 to $4.50 more with a combination of a drink and either more fries or a side salad.
Stuffing pitas with fries isn’t just an indulgent extra, said Jerry Ajlouny, franchise owner of Riverbank, which also has locations in Livermore and Castro Valley. It’s an authentic touch that Greek street vendors add to their gyros, he said, which are often eaten as late-night snacks after a night out on the town.
“The addition of the fries brings a lot of mixed emotions to people,” he said. “People think it’s not authentic, but it’s Greek street food.”
Adding to the authenticity are the three vertical rotisseries which rotate the meats continuously, ensuring everyone has pieces of roast in their meals. The menu also includes plates of souvlaki or gyros (sliced meat or falafel served on a bed of rice or those ubiquitous fries for $16.50).
Ajlouny’s family has a long history with the founding Nick the Greek family. His grandfather delivered meat to family restaurants. Nick’s relatives ran a restaurant in the Bay Area for decades before launching the fast-casual restaurant franchise. “Baby” Nick Tsigaris was also present at the opening of the Riverbank location on Tuesday.
First announced as coming to Stanislaus County’s high-traffic shopping center in January 2022, the restaurant takes up about half the space in the former Westamerica Bank building, with fitness studio Hotworx occupying the space. other side. The dining room can accommodate around 50 people and Nick’s also offers catering service. Delivery is available through DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub.
The chain has locations in Elk Grove and Fresno, with more planned in Tracy, Stockton and Sacramento. Ajlouny said he saw an opportunity to introduce Nick the Greek’s cuisine to Stanislaus County and the northern San Joaquin Valley and was excited about the location in the always-bustling mall. He said the new Costco, which is underway as part of the Crossroads West expansion, will only increase foot traffic to its location.
It also plans to open a location in Modesto, likely within the next year, although no location has been finalized.
Diners who took advantage of the free lunch offered by the restaurant on its opening day were excited to have another Mediterranean cuisine option in the area.
“I grew up with a lot of my friends who were Greek and ate Greek food,” said Modesto resident Pam Davis, who brought her mother, Sue Davis, to the opening event. “It’s great, I’ll come back.”
Nick the Greek, at 2251 Claribel Road in Riverbank, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for lunch and dinner. For more information contact 209-248-8588 or visit www.nickthegreek.com.